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NATO chief strongly condemns North Korea rocket

07 February 2016, 20:17

Seoul — The Latest on North Korea's launch of a long-range rocket (all times local):

9:30 p.m.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has issued a strong condemnation of North Korea's rocket launch, calling it a "direct violation" of five U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Stoltenberg said in a statement that the five resolutions "call for North Korea to suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile" program, to "re-establish its pre-existing commitments to a moratorium on missile launching and not to conduct any further nuclear test or any launch using ballistic missile technology."

He said that "NATO continues to call on the North Korean authorities to comply with their obligations under international law, not to threaten with or conduct any launches using ballistic missile technology and to refrain from any further provocative actions."


9:30 p.m.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has criticized North Korea's rocket launch and said Britain would meet with its U.N. Security Council partners in New York to map out a response.

Hammond said in a statement Sunday that he "strongly" condemns "North Korea's ballistic missile technology test."

He said the launch was "a clear and deliberate violation of a number of U.N. Security Council resolutions" and that the North's "actions continue to present a threat to regional and international security."

Hammond called the launch a "provocation" that proves North Korea has placed development of its nuclear weapons program ahead of the well-being of its people.


9 p.m.

Germany and France have condemned North Korea's rocket launch.

Germany called the North's launch of a long-range missile Sunday an "irresponsible provocation."

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in a statement that the East Asian country had "once again ignored the warnings of the international community."

Steinmeier noted that the launch breached a U.N. Security Council resolution and "once more threatens regional security."

He called for "measurable consequences" and said Germany would advocate a strong international reaction, adding that the U.N. Security Council meeting called for Sunday was an important signal.

French President Francois Hollande condemned the launch as "a senseless provocation."

He called for "a quick and severe reaction from the international community at the Security Council, starting today."


3:45 p.m.

South Korea says it will further restrict the entry of its nationals to a jointly run factory park in North Korea.

The number of South Koreans staying in the Kaesong industrial complex, the last major cooperation project between the rivals, will be decreased to 500 from the current 650, according to South Korea's Unification Ministry.

South Korea took similar measures after the North's nuclear test last month.


3:25 p.m.

In a development that will worry both North Korea and China, a senior South Korean Defense Ministry official, Yoo Jeh Seung, told reporters that Seoul and Washington have agreed to begin talks on a possible deployment of the THADD missile defense system in South Korea.

China would see THAAD, which is one of the most advanced missile defense systems, as a threat to its interests in the region.

Yoo said the talks on THAAD are aimed at bolstering South Korea-U.S. defense in the face of escalating North Korean threats.


1:55 p.m.

China, North Korea's main ally, has expressed regret at Pyongyang's rocket launch.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement that although China believes that North Korea should have the right to peaceful utilization of space, "at present this right is restricted by U.N. Security Council resolutions."

The statement says Beijing hopes all relevant parties will calmly deal with the issue, act with discretion and not take actions that may cause further escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula.


1 p.m.

A spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has deplored North Korea's rocket launch, which he says is in violation of Security Council resolutions against Pyongyang's use of ballistic missile technology.

He says the launch came despite the "united plea of the international community against such an act."

The Secretary-General reiterates his call on North Korea to halt its provocative actions and return to compliance with its international obligations.

The U.N. Security Council has scheduled an emergency meeting Sunday at 11 a.m. EST on the North Korean launch. The U.S., which confirmed the meeting, requested council members to meet along with Japan.


12:40 p.m.

In a special announcement read on state-run North Korean TV, the announcer says the country has put a satellite into orbit on a successful rocket launch.

The announcer says North Korea will launch more satellites.

The North's special announcement says the launch was ordered by leader Kim Jong Un.


12:05 p.m.

Republican presidential candidates in the U.S. are speaking up about North Korea's rocket launch on Sunday.

Asked how he would respond to North Korea's provocations, Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said he would authorize a pre-emptive strike against such rockets if it was necessary to keep America safe.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz demurred, saying he wouldn't speculate about how he'd handle the situation without a full briefing. And Donald Trump said he'd rely on China to "quickly and surgically" handle North Korea.


11:50 a.m.

Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga says Japan has sent a strong protest to North Korea through their respective embassies in Beijing following North Korea's rocket launch.

He also said that Japan is now considering its own sanctions against Pyongyang. He did not elaborate.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe earlier Sunday sharply criticized North Korea and said that the launch violated existing U.N. resolutions on Pyongyang's use of ballistic missile technology.

Japan and the U.S. have requested an emergency U.N. Security Council session to discuss the situation.


11:15 a.m.

South Korea's government says North Korea will make a special public announcement at noon Pyongyang time following Sunday's rocket launch.

The government in Seoul had no details about what exactly the announcement would contain. But it seemed highly likely that it would focus on the North's rocket launch.


11:05 a.m.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has condemned North Korea's rocket launch as "a flagrant violation of U.N. Security Council Resolutions" related to Pyongyang's use of ballistic missile technology.

Kerry says this is the second time in just over a month that North Korea has chosen to conduct "a major provocation, threatening not only the security of the Korean Peninsula, but that of the region and the United States as well."

He reaffirms Washington's "ironclad commitment to the defense of our allies, including the Republic of Korea and Japan."

He says the U.S. will continue to work with its partners and members of the U.N. Security Council on significant measures to hold North Korea to account.


10:30 a.m.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency is reporting that North Korea's rocket launch may have failed.

The agency provided no other details in a short dispatch.

The South's Defense Ministry says it cannot immediately confirm the report. North Korea successfully put a satellite into orbit in its last launch, in December 2012. But before that Pyongyang suffered a series of failures.


10:10 a.m.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called the North Korean launch and the recent nuclear test violations of U.N. agreements.

He told reports: "We absolutely cannot allow this. We will take action to totally protect the safety and well-being of our people."

The Japanese government says no rocket debris fell on the Japanese territory and there are no reports of damage.


10 a.m.

A South Korean defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of office rules, says the South Korean military was tracking the rocket's trajectory but gave no further details.

He says the launch from the North's west coast launching pad was made between 9:30-9:35 a.m. local time.

Japan's NHK broadcaster reported that the Japanese government said the rocket passed over the southern Japanese island of Okinawa but no anti-missiles were fired.


9:55 a.m.

Japan's national broadcaster NHK broke into normal programming to alert the news of Sunday morning's launch and show live footage of Patriot missile batteries on the island of Okinawa deployed to shoot down any debris that might potentially fall on Japanese territory.

It said the North Korean rocket was launched at 9:31 a.m. Japan time.

The launch Sunday follows North Korea's claim last month to have tested a hydrogen bomb and will likely draw more sanctions and condemnation in the United Nations.

- AP


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